Bacterial Meningitis

Health Services
Health Services
Bacterial Meningitis
 Picture of a Stethoscope

Meningitis Vaccination Required for TSU Students

Beginning January 1, 2012, all students attending the university for the first time and any student returning to the university following a break in enrollment, of at least one fall or spring semester, under the age of 22, will be required to have the meningitis vaccination or an approved exemption prior to attending classes. To meet the immunization requirement, the student must provide proof of vaccination against bacterial meningitis during the five year period preceding and at least 10 days prior to the first day of classes.


Texas Southern University follows the guidelines of the Center for Disease and Control (CDC) and the American College Health Association (ACHA) , which recommends that students be current with all immunizations. Students are encouraged to consult with a physician about the need for the immunization against bacterial meningitis to prevent the disease.

Submitting Health Records

All immunization records must include the signature or stamp of a physician or his/her designee, or public health personnel on a form which shows the month, day and year the vaccination dose or booster was administered. Acceptable forms include an official immunization record generated from a state or local health authority, an official record received from school officials, including a record from another state, a record from a health practitioner who is authorized by law to administer a vaccination. A student is NOT required to submit evidence of vaccination against bacterial meningitis if:

  • the students is 22 years of age or older (by the first day of classes)
  • the student is enrolled only in online or other distance education courses
  • the student is enrolled in a continuing education course or program that is less than 360 contact hours, or continuing education corporate training
  • the student is enrolled in a dual credit course which is taught at a public or private K-12 facility not located in a higher education institution campus

Must provide a certified English translation for all health and immunization records

Exemptions to Immunization Requirements:

Chapter §97.62of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) describes the conditions under which individuals can seek exemptions from Texas immunization requirements. Exclusions from compliance are allowable on an individual basis for medical contraindications, reasons of conscience, including a religious belief, and active duty with the armed forces of the United States.

A student or a parent or guardian of a student, is not required to submit evidence of receiving the vaccination against bacterial meningitis if the student, or a parent or guardian of a student submits to the institution:

  • An affidavit or a certificate signed by a physician who is duly registered and licensed to practice medicine in the United States, in which it is stated that, in the physician’s opinion, the vaccination required would be injurious to the health and well-being of the student. The certificate must contain a date and will expire after one year, unless a lifelong condition is specified.
  • OR a notarized affidavit signed by the student stating that the student understands the risks and benefits of vaccination(s) and declines the vaccination(s) for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief. Students seeking an exemption for reasons of conscience must use a form provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Students who wish to submit an exemption for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief, must request the official Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) affidavit form. This may be done online, by mail or fax. Once requested, this form is mailed to the student from DSHS. Please allow 7 to 10 business days for delivery of the form.

Once received, the affidavit must be completed, notarized and provided to the Health Services department at Texas Southern University. It must be the original affidavit, copies will not be accepted. Photocopies will print with the word “void” throughout the form, making the form null & void.

A written request must be submitted for the affidavit via one of the following:

  • Secure online request:

  • Fax the written request to:

    • 512-776-7544
  • Mail the written request to:

    • Immunization Branch, Mail Code 1946
    • P.O. Box 149347
    • Austin, TX 78714
  • Or hand deliver to the Texas Department of State Health Services:

    • 1100 West 49th Street
    • Austin, TX 78756

Where to get the Vaccine

  • Your healthcare provider
  • If you are 18 or younger, you may qualify for the Texas Vaccines for Children Program. Call 211, to find healthcare providers in your area who participate in this program
  • Many Texas city/county health departments
  • Medi-clinics and most large pharmacy chains

Important Information about Bacterial Meningitis:

Bacterial Meningitis is a serious, potentially deadly disease that can progress extremely fast – so take utmost caution. It is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The bacteria that cause meningitis can also infect the blood. There are 5 primary types of bacteria, A,C,Y,W and B, that cause meningococcal disease, also known as meningitis. There are different vaccines for each type. There are vaccines that cover A,C,Y and W, that meet the current state requirement, and there are vaccines for group B meningitis. Although the vaccine that protects against the A,C,W and Y strains are currently required, please consult with your healthcare provider about the benefits of both vaccinations.

This disease strikes about 3,000 Americans each year, including 100-125 on college campuses, leading to 5-15 deaths among college students every year. There is a treatment, but those who survive may develop severe health problems or disabilities.

Meningococcal Disease (meningitis) is easily spread by direct contact, or by droplets of respiratory secretions (coughing, sneezing, kissing, and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation). Meningitis is often lethal because people associate early symptoms with the common flu, and don’t consult a physician. However, symptoms can progress rapidly, sometimes leading to death in 24-48 hours. Following the initial symptoms, the disease can result in joint infection, pneumonia, organ system failure, and shock.

What are the Symptoms

  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Rash or purple patches on skin
  • Vomiting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion and sleepiness
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

How is Bacterial Meningitis Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made by a medical provider and is usually based on a combination of clinical symptoms and laboratory results from spinal fluid and blood tests. Early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve the likelihood of recovery.

How is the disease transmitted?

The disease is transmitted when people exchange saliva (such as by kissing, or by sharing drinking containers, utensils, cigarettes, toothbrushes, etc.) or come in contact with respiratory or throat secretions.

How do you increase the risk of getting Bacterial Meningitis?

Exposure to saliva by sharing cigarettes, water bottles, eating utensils, food, kissing, etc. Living in close conditions (such as sharing a room/suite in a dorm or group home).

What are the possible consequences of the disease?

  • Death (in 8 to 24 hours)
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Learning disability
  • Hearing loss, blindness
  • Limb damage (fingers, toes, arms, legs) that requires amputation
  • Gangrene
  • Coma
  • Convulsions

Can the disease be treated?

Antibiotic treatment, if received early, can save lives and chances of recovery are increased. However, permanent disability or death can still occur. Vaccinations are available and should be considered for:

  • Those living in close quarters
  • College students 25 years old or younger
  • Vaccinations are effective against 4 of the 5 most common bacterial types that cause 70% of the disease in the U.S. (but does not protect against all types of meningitis).
  • Vaccinations take 7-10 days to become effective, with protection lasting 3-5 years.
  • The cost of vaccine varies so check with your health care provider.
  • Vaccination is very safe – most common side effects are redness and minor pain at injection site for up to two days.
  • Contact your Student Health Center at (713) 313-7173 for vaccination locations.

How can I find out more information?

  • Contact your own health care provider.
  • Contact your Student Health Center at (713) 313-7173.
  • Contact your local or regional Texas Department of Health office at (512) 458-7111.
  • Visit web sites: or